Roseburg Shooting

I know it might sound a little strange, but, when you’re praying for the families of the slain, the family of the shooter, the firefighters, police, medical personnel, dispatchers, and all the others–please don’t forget to pray for my friend Fred Saada and all the other chaplains serving there in Roseburg.

“God give them strength, and fill them with the Spirit of Jesus.”

Here’s a recent Facebook post from Fred about the current situation there:

Long two days in Roseburg and it is just the beginning of picking up the pieces that evil has strewn all over the region and beyond. Several of us Chaplains are serving the torn, the weary, the brokenhearted and those who are mourning this senseless and evil act. But evil will not prevail. Jesus, the Light of the World, has overcome the world and its evil.

John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

–Fred Saada

The Flip Side Of Envy

Envy ChristianHe said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. (John 1:39-42a)

One Day With Jesus

So last post from the book of John we saw how John the Baptist was with two of his disciples when Jesus walked by. “Behold the Lamb of God,” John the Baptist said. And these two disciples of John the Baptist, they immediately left him and followed Jesus.

When Jesus saw them following, he asked, “What do you want?”

And the two responded, “Where are you staying?”

And Jesus said, “Come and see.”

So they did. They followed Jesus to where he was staying. And they spent the day with him.

Imagine what you would ask if you spent the day with the Messiah. These two former disciples of John the Baptist, now Jesus’ first two disciples, probably spent the day asking the same questions. Whatever the discussion, we know from what happens next that they were deeply and profoundly impacted, because one of them, Andrew (the other isn’t named) leaves Jesus to tell his brother who they found.

Peter’s Brother

“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother,” that’s how Andrew is referred to in our text. That’s how Andrew is usually referred to throughout scripture, as Simon Peter’s brother. One imagines that it was that way for Andrew, for a long time. We can imagine Andrew growing up hearing himself referred to in this way: “You know who I’m talking about, Simon’s brother.” Do you know someone like Andrew? Someone who is always referred to as “so and so’s brother?” If you do, you know it can be a point of contention. Envy can creep in. And when envy creeps in, that person who’s referred to as “so and so’s brother” begins to wish for, hope for, and even enjoy the defeats and failures of the person who is the object of their envy. That’s just how envy works.

You might think that Andrew, having lived in his brother’s shadow all these years, would have looked at his new relationship with the Messiah as an opportunity: an opportunity to escape his brother’s shadow, an opportunity for Andrew to shine for himself.

“I’m Andrew, the very one who found the Messiah (with a little help from John the Baptist). Maybe now they’ll call Simon, ‘Andrew’s brother.'”

But to Andrews great credit, he didn’t let envy or anything else get in his way. After spending one day with Jesus, he felt compelled to find his brother Simon and to tell Simon all about who he, Andrew, just found: the Messiah, the Christ.

The Flip Side Of Envy

But there’s another side of envy that’s not as often a topic of discussion. The flip side of envy is experienced by those on the receiving end. I recently spoke with a twenty-something who I’ll call Michael. He said he received a phone call from his friend, and he heard his friend say the words: “Do you work at such and such fire department?”

“I do. Why do you ask?”

“Because I’m in a restaurant right now and the guys at the table next to me are complaining about you.”

That’s a phone call none of us want to receive. But as I spoke with my friend Michael it became obvious why these people were complaining. Michael was significantly younger, had significantly less seniority, but was significantly more successful than the firefighters in the restaurant. It was evident that the problem was envy. Have you ever found yourself in this situation? Or have you ever wondered why certain people seem to root against you for no apparent reason? Maybe it’s because of envy. If it is, you might find what follows to be helpful.

Men Of Great Means (And How They Guard Against Envy)

My son Gabe is fascinated by Warren Buffet’s house. Buffet, one of the richest men in the world, bought his house in 1958 for $31k. And he’s lived there for more than thirty years. The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, lives in a very small modest house in Sweden (although it is well furnished). I once visited a museum where Sam Walton’s old pick-up truck was on display and I can tell you, it is positively humble. Why do (or did) these people of great means live this way? I propose that the reason has to do with the flip side of envy.

It’s not that they experienced the emotion of envy themselves. It’s because they know that with success comes a great danger of incurring the envy of those around you. They know envious people are quietly hoping to see you flounder and fail. So Buffet, Kamprad, and Walton do (or did) what they can to make the people around them feel comfortable. They do what they can to make themselves small and humble. Because small is more attractive than large. A kitten is attractive–a cat less so. These men of great means (financially at least) don’t just avoid showing off but they’re open about their problems, they’re self effacing and self deprecating. They’re avoiding envy because envy creates enemies.

Right now you might be thinking, “Sure, but I’m not a Warren Buffet, or the founder of a furniture company, or a big box chain store.” True, but neither is my firefighter friend. Don’t underestimate the gifts God blessed you with. Human nature being what it is, it doesn’t take much to provoke the green monster.

The Disciple Who Hid Himself

In our text we see two disciples follow and spend the day with Jesus. One we already spoke of, Andrew. But the other is unnamed. Many scholars believe that unnamed disciple is John the apostle, because John always left himself unnamed. Even when he bragged he remained unnamed, as we see when John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23 and 21:20) John is an example of someone who represented himself in such a way as to make it difficult for others to envy him. He was self effacing. He made himself small to the point of disappearance. He hid himself in his own gospel account. Do a word search for the name John and see. What you’ll find is nearly every instance of the name John refers to John the baptist.

John the apostle hid himself in humility. He made himself small in such a way as to make Jesus the main object of attention and attraction.

If you’re a Christian, isn’t this how we should live anyway? In humility and in a way that points people to Jesus rather than ourselves? Proverbs 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” (KJV) Enduring the envy of others can be a bitter challenge. But if we live the way the Bible tells us to live, we can avoid that challenge (or at least mitigate it). We learn from another proverb, “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

God tells us to live like this:

“…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (see Philippians 2:3)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

If we live this way we can avoid problems with envy.

If we live this way we can even experience riches and honor and life.

So live as our Father in heaven instructs us to live, and enjoy a life with less envy and greater peace from others. Avoid the flip side of envy.

[Image via Florencia Carcamo – Creative Commons]

The One Thing That Changed Everything For Me As A Christian

Why don't I feel joy
Read John 1:35-39.

“What are you seeking?” (John 1:38)

Why Don’t I Feel Joy?

So you’re a Christian. And you’re wondering why you feel the way you do. I mean, you read about, and hear about joy, and fulfillment, and an abundant rich life in Christ, but, that’s not what you feel. That simply has not been your experience. Maybe you feel anxiety, frustration, or even depression, and you’re wondering why.

This blog post answers that question, and offers you a chance to change everything. Continue reading

Did Jesus Need the Holy Spirit? (And do you and I?)

Holy Spirit

And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

We know very little of Jesus’ life before he went public with his teachings and his miracles. We know something of his birth. And we know about the time his parents lost track of him when he was twelve years old, when he was hanging out in the temple. But that’s it.

Did Jesus Need the Holy Spirit? Continue reading

What Jesus Looks Like (In New Haven, Connecticut)

This is what Jesus looks like.


A group of churches in the New Haven area are collaborating to show Jesus’ love to the people of their city. Recently 1,000 volunteers contributed to 72 different service projects in New Haven. They call their group Bridges of Hope and they collaborate and cooperate with institutions of all faiths, and no faith, for the common good when consistent with Christ’s values. You can check them out over at the Bridges of Hope website.

This is what Jesus looks like–in New Haven, Connecticut.

“…who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10-29-37)

How the lambs of the Bible bleed a stream of blood (that leads to Jesus)– John 1:24-31

Jesus in Old Testament In our last post from the gospel of John we saw how John the Baptist was grilled with questions. And he answered all their questions, all the questions asked by this group of inquisitors sent from the Pharisees.

One Last Question

So now they ask him one final question: “Okay, if you’re not the Messiah, and you’re not that prophet, and you’re not Elijah, then why do you baptize?” (In those days baptism was for gentiles newly converted to Judaism, but John was baptizing Jews. This was unorthodox and confusing to the religious leadership.)

John the Baptist says, Continue reading

John The Baptist Grilled With Questions (And the information he withheld)

am I a sinnerLast post on the gospel of John we saw how John the Baptist declared, “I am not the Christ,” and we discussed the benefits of recognizing that fact in our own lives. This post we’ll see John grilled with more questions and learn what information he withheld from his inquisitors.

And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:21-23)

Was John The Baptist Elijah?

They asked John the Baptist if he was Elijah, and he said, “I am not.” Have you ever thought this through? Because Continue reading

Everyone Just Believes What Their Family And Culture Believe: So Why Believe In Jesus?

My friend George sent me a direct message on Twitter with this question. My answer quickly became too long for that medium so I put it in a blog post. Props to George for asking such a great question.

George wrote: What do you think of this quote, I see a lot of truth to it…. “Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence almost everyone has the same religion as their parents? And it always just happens to be the right religion. Religions run in families. If we’d been brought up in ancient Greece we would all be worshiping Zeus and Apollo. If we had been born Vikings we would be worshiping Wotan and Thor. How does this come about? Through childhood indoctrination.” Richard Dawkins

It’s great to hear from you George! And that’s a really great question too. I’m not a scholar or a genius by any means, I’m just a regular guy who loves Jesus so all I have to offer are my own thoughts based on what I’ve learned over the last few years. The following is just the way I think about this question.

So for me it starts with Continue reading